tv Role of Congress in International Crises CSPAN June 21, 2014 11:30pm-1:05am EDT
station, half of st. louis is there to see this guy. interviews galore. .e winds up being hanged we used to have a gallows that the police headquarters, like a lot of towns did. >> we look at the history and literary life of st. louis, missouri throughout the weekend on c-span's booktv and american history tv on c-span a3.ir on -- on c-span3. >> next american history tv, a panel including dennis hastert, bob woodward, and two former congressman. they discussed the role of the legislative branch when the nation is faced by international crises. it includes the separation of powers and actions taken without
congressional authorization. this is about an hour and a half. >> thank you. we are all assembled here and ready to go. welcome, all of you. dennis, for the introduction. i think it is really appropriate we are having this conversation here tonight at the national archives. because much of the controversy around this topic, the role of in international crises stem from the words on the parchment papers you can see all around your. article one section eight of the constitution gives the power to declare war, raise funds, and treaties, ratifies verifies the appointments of key presidential nominee is when it comes to assembling a foreign-policy team. article two,hand, section two, makes it clear the president is the commander-in-chief of the military and the militia and gives him the power to repel
attacks against the united states and the authority to make treaties and nominations. so, therein, the tension begins. as a great constitutional professor, edward corwin, i get to reference him. he once wrote that what the constitution does and all that it does is to confer on the president certain powers capable of affecting our foreign relations and certain other powers of the same general kind on the senate, and so other powers on congress. but which of these organs shall have the decisive and final voice in determining the course of the american nation is left for events to resolve. so, invents, and we happen to be in the middle will -- the middle of one right now, is intended to shape how we regard the correct and proper role of congress when it comes to its role in international crises and foreign
policymaking. we will talk about events tonight. maybe we will talk about current events. to do that, we have a great panel. i want to introduce them a little bit. i know you have all of their biographies. we have the honorable dennis , the longest-serving republican speaker of the house in history. first elected in 1986, representing the 14th congressional district of illinois, former state legislator, history and government. a pretty fine football and wrestling coach. certainly one of the most loved and patient people ever to have wielded the gavel in the house. he is now in the public policy and law practice at dixon and schapiro. chris shays who represented the district in connecticut for 20 years in the last republican standing when new england's
entire congressional delegation finally went all democrat. he worked closely with members on domestic aisle and foreign-policy funds, former peace corps volunteer, chairman of wartime ground tracking -- contracting. every democrat's favorite republican, which is maybe why he is here as an x congressman. woodward, what can you say about the nation's most prolific and celebrated investigative journalists, other than now at his age, he is better looking age,robert redford at his robert redford who was impersonated him -- >> you have no idea how many women i disappointed. [laughter] >> not a subject i want to go to. [laughter] >> i wanted to get that out in the open.
>> for a generation of people like me who wanted to grow up to be journalists, who wanted to be bob, based on his extraordinary body of work. the reporting he did on watergate. he won the 2002 pulitzer prize. extraordinary coverage of the events of 9/11, plus he is the author and co-author -- most of these are bestsellers. he probably has produced the most remarkable audio work of .ny living american reporter and john tanner, we are delighted to have him on the panel. former representatives of tennessee's eighth congressional district for 22 years until 2010. much appreciated in the house as cofounder and the inspirational leader of the democratic blue dog coalition.
he is now on the board of the center for strategic and international studies and the committee for responsible budget. please join me in welcoming what i think is a great panel area -- panel. [applause] does the general question to get us going and then we will work to some other things. historians divide the question -- the supremacy of the executive branch and the legislative branch tend to divide into periods. there was an era in which the 1898,ent was dominant. at largely congressional supremacy, the conduct of foreign policy. 1890 nine through most of the post-world war ii years, the ther balance swung back to president, maybe with the
exception of woodrow wilson's attempt to ratify the treaty of her side. then we get to post vietnam with the war powers act, the balance gets murky and the contest 20 congressional roll -- the congressional roll and the authority of the president begins to be a question everyone asked -- who is up and who is down? i would like to start with that. what is your assessment of the relative strength in the role of congress when it comes to shaping the conduct of american foreign policy versus the role that the president plays? maybe, mr. speaker, i will start with you on that one. >> talking about the balance of power, there is a basic ounce of power in the first place.
and finally the appropriations process goes through and people weigh and balance of a will parse out appropriations to make that work. there is always a check and balance between administration and the congress. i would say congress has dominated over the administration. the administration, they have the department of state that actually sets the parameters, sets the program, and where they feel they need to address what that policy should be. that really has a major effect. >> the defense department is very active. -- first of all, you most difficult vote is whether we should use force.
if our adversaries think we will not use force, they will use it, and then we will have to use it. so, my answer to you is, i have this inherent feeling that ultimately it has to be the president. that we have to give the power to the president and then we have got to work hard to make sure he does what we want. or she. let's go to mr. tanner and then, bob, back to you. go ahead. been a controversy between the branches since, as you suggested, the constitution was signed. we are in a very different world now than we were then. in a --aid that we are not perpetual war, but perpetual from the standpoint of the foreseeable future against aretate operatives who -- but weand we are
know that they pose a threat. 9/11 is as fresh today as -- almost 13 years later -- as it was then. there is standpoint, no one for congress to declare war on, so to speak. from that president or the executive branch has to, within the boundaries set by the conduct foreign policy, and it's not a question of instilling troops into a hostile environment. they are already there. so, it is a question of how it is managed, and the congress, through the intelligence committee and defense committees and so forth, really has i think an opportunity and a responsibility to diligently work with the executive as the
policies unfold, in whatever -- put you last. every president back to nixon, you have watched this review have a unique perspective on that. how do you assess that? what has changed about that thationship in that time, duration of presidents from nixon to barack obama? all, this is the gray zone, the constitutional gray zone. if you go into the constitution and then the practice, it is inevitably a shared power between the executive and congress and it was intended that way. but i think since world war ii, the last declared war, it is very clear the president has the upper hand as commander-in-chief. he can employ the force as he
sees fit. remember the george w. toh administration talking the group of academics and they were saying, well, the constitution says congress will declare war. and i said, yeah, but the practice is the president kind of does it. finally there was such a academic resistance to this, i said, look. george bush can invade mexico .omorrow if he wants and someone stood up in the back in despair and said, don't give him any ideas. [laughter] he has thatice, power. and the reality is, yes, as says, congress controls the purse strings, but once it president launches a war, either on his own or with some sort of backing through resolutions from the congress,
it would be very difficult and in fact any practical sense impossible, unless it was a very, very unpopular war for funds.s to withdraw because the withdrawing the funds would not just stop the war, but it would take food and ammunition away from our troops. practically speaking, i don't think the congress is going to do that. i think it is -- the president congressf the power in -- and congress, 10%, maybe. >> we're looking at the relative balance in the separation of powers here, and i think it is almost a cliché to say we're in so much a more divisive, polarized time now. however the current political ?andscape affected this , there was art
time of unprecedented unity post-9/11. you were there. you probably had to think through that day. all kinds of complicated things about the future of this country and where we are going. wilke is through that day and walk us through the aftermath of ,ow you and the other leaders the bipartisan leadership of the congress came together and worked with the president. i remember you being in the rose garden and all being together at one point and really rallying the country. but what did that feel like and how is that different from some of the political animosity that we see? >> i remember it felt kind of lonesome. but, yeah, i was in my office, the morning. around 9:00, in akamai door. mr. speaker, something happened in new york. -- went small plane or
into the trade towers. this is not an accident. this is an act of terrorism. we do not know who it was or why it was. it was there. the background that day, we were have a joint session of congress schedule that morning with the prime minister of australia. i am thinking, this is not a safe situation do have the whole government of the united states -- the president was gone. he was in florida, as we know. the senate was not there yet. i was trying to get a hold of vice president cheney, and he was in the white house with secretary pineda trying to get aircraft back on the ground. our communication was not there. thinking, do we create an international incident with australia if i canceled john howard and give a national address before the congress? should we put the supreme court and the joint chiefs of staff and the president's cabinet and
ambassador corr, the senate, the house, all in one building? all of this was going to my head. i am standing at my window, looking down at the mall. i see the smoke right across the mall. i said to the young fellow who runs my office. i said that smoke is not supposed to be there. what happened? he came back to me and said, you know, i don't know, but i will find out. plane went into the pentagon. so, i started thinking to myself, this is not a good situation. i unilaterally decided to cancel congress for the day and call presidento was the pro tem of the house, porter goss, later the cia director. i said i want the chaplain to come in and say a prayer. thellow the chaplain into .ouse chamber
all of a sudden, two of my security guys, big guys grabbed me and are going down the back alleys, the back halls of congress, down through the tunnel and into the rayburn building in the back of an suv, and we take off through the back streets. i say, what is going on? he said, there was a fourth plane coming from the capitol. they saw a fourth plane. it happened to be a plane that was a cia plane doing reconnaissance. it was unmarked. nobody knew what it was. the white house, it was the same thing they were going to tell those people -- take your shoes off and run nor was the advice for the day -- run north was the advice for the day. i ended up out at andrews air force base. finally get ahold of the vice president. he said, there are three, maybe four planes down, maybe five points. they know there is a plane and the pentagon, two planes in new york. we think there is a plane in pennsylvania, we think there is
a belaying down in kentucky. there never was a plane down in kentucky, but they thought that. is that there were three planes coming across the atlantic with transponders not working. we do not want to shoot them down, but we have to get them on the ground. kl flight from canada we have the transponder on. we need to get that plane down. that was what their focus was. and he said, we will send you to weigh not disclosed location. we go to the not disclosed location, which i can't tell you. [laughter] but we are there. yep park shows up, daschle shows gephardt shows up, showse shows up, armey up. anybodytching tv like else. cnn. we talk to the vice president two or three times. he is giving is what happens. the president is safe. he is someplace else.
finally he says -- the last call, you says, you are going to come into ec at 6:30. at president will come in 6:00. your helicopters will take you to the north side of the capitol. we're all flying from the undisclosed location. thead been talking through day in a bipartisan, bicameral way, what are some of the things we're going to have to do and what are the problems we're going to face the ipo we were not even sure all of the problems we would have to face yet. were scheduled to go to the front and east side of -- capitol and give a 22nd pitch to the cameras. i walk around, following daschle. as we walked around to the front of the capital -- capitol, there are members of congress standing in front of the capitol. house members, democrats,
republicans, all there. ofwas kind of a show solidarity. it was heartening to see that. so, daschle went out and did his 15 or 20 seconds. i went out and said, we are going to come back to work tomorrow. congress has a lot of stuff to do. we have to figure out how the of this country don't again. as i turned around and walked back, somebody broke out in a cappella "todd was america -- "god bless america." i don't think it was planned. a chill went down my back. for the next two months, every night we were together, we had to do the patriot act. we had to get the airlines flying again. we had to do reinsurance. we had to rebuild new york and other places. we could not do anything until we created this. we did it out of whole cloth. so, we work together and with
understood we had to do it. we had $21 billion the president said we could spend to rebuild new york and the pentagon. we worked together. we have the appropriations people there every night. we worked where the problems were. we got the airlines, had to get the airlines flying again. they were spread all over the world. .e did all those things we just focused. and you know, we never thought about partisan issues. we did not have time. partisans did not play a part of it. we just had to get the country going again. that is the important thing. when it comes down to international issues, when it is crisis time, politics does not have a place to play in it. national security has a place to play in it. we created that. we created homeland security. we did a lot of things during that time. we had election after that and things change. but i think that was an incredible time. members of committees, members of leadership, both house and
senate, we met almost every night and worked things out. >> mr. speaker, i wanted to hear the story because, given public opinion about congress right now, which we all know is not very high, that response to crisis is what americans think is the best of the institutions we are talking about here, the presidency and the congress working together in a bipartisan way to address approximate crisis. my question for everybody here what has happened to that? why have we lost that ability? you think back. to gete point i want from you -- you think about the presidents in office during the cold war. there was a proximate threat, a detailed terry and threat we were facing then. it seemed to bring americans together. at the end of the day, we did not have a lot of the political
polarization because people said, look, we are in a bipolar world. we have to stand together as americans. the question is, why do we not seem to do that? look at benghazi. we have the controversy today. everything about foreign policy seems to low up into yet another political controversy. why is that and what is that about? will try to be brief. even though it is hard. [laughter] in 1962, from my own congressional district in tennessee came a case in the supreme court called baker versus clark. it was a marvel, tragic the jewish and. believe it or not, these state had notssee legislator reapportioned itself based on population since 1901. the case came from memphis.
it said congressional and house and state senates, seats based on population, they had to have approximately the same number of people because it involved the process and equal protection of the law. so, that became the law of the land. at that time, the supreme court said, that is the legislative branch. we are the judicial branch. separation of powers. 51 yearst time, some ago, the congress has been reapportioned every time, and census, soithout a what is happened is the middle has virtually disappeared. now areople in congress trapped in a system that is broken. it is called the gerrymander. time it is reapportioned, you have more and more people in either red or blue districts. what happens to the member then is the threat to that member's reelection is not in november.
it is in the party primary, and so the democrats are looking over their left shoulder, if you want to use those terms, the republicans are looking over their right shoulder, and the political kill zone is the middle. where you have to go to work things out when people have differing opinions about what public all as c should reflect. -- public policy should reflect. the journal had an article about this last summer. i argued that what we have done by the gerrymander is replace a parliamentary model on a -- placedtive system a parliamentary model on a representative system and the system does not function. republicans do not vote the same andvery day, everything, yet that is what the gerrymander has done, to force the members to abide by the polar ends. think that is an important
observation. has that had a particular impact on the way in which high partisanship relates to foreign policy echo -- policy? isi think the speaker correctly describing harmony after 9/11. or two it lasted a month double on spirit i think it lasted even longer than that. the real question is the iraq war. the bush white house and the administration was convinced saddam hussein was a threat. there seems to be evidence there weapons of mass destruction that were active programs in iraq and it was a threat. and was put tosue congress, will you support a resolution -- i think it was october of 2002 -- it passed three to one in the house and
senate. then we discovered there were no weapons of mass destruction, and people look at and say, whoa. wait a minute. this harmony did not work. the intelligence committee did not work. and to be honest, my business, the news media, was not functioning adequately on that. i, inarticular -- particular, i think failed to look at the evidence of the wmd in iraq. i wrote a story that was on the front page of "the washington the iraq war saying there is no smoking gun evidence there is wmd in iraq. i actually did not understand what i wrote, because when you do not have smoking gun evidence, you do not have hard evidence. when you do not have hard evidence, particularly on making a war decision, you want to make sure it is there.
of the pivot point in all this, i think is the iraq war and from that point 2003 up to right now, i think there has been partisanship and this harmony on foreign policy -- ny on foreign policy that has only been into his abide to the issue of the prisoner swap this week. >> chris shea's comment on this -- your own thinking on this had to evolve. you had the pressure of having to vote. >> you don't want to be wrong on this issue. and you had to debate to get saddam out of kuwait -- by the he never would have gone in if he thought we would get him out. we had a 24-hour debate. you don't want to convince your colleagues to go to war, because they have to live with that
vote. it is a really internal vote. i met with the french, the brits , the jordanians, the turks. i met with five countries. everyone said he had weapons of mass destruction, but the french said he would not use them. i said, yeah, right. he did not have it. so, we were wrong. everyone said we live. no, we did not live. we were wrong. in the other countries, they had to figure out why they were wrong, and it came down to getting most of our information from one source -- >> actually, there were many sources, but we got it wrong -- but i think the interesting question here, if i may, is each individual congressman, senator has to figure out how they want to vote. and that is key. but also you want the country to get it right.
yeah. right if you get it yourself, you think you're getting your country right. >> in this case it turned out not to be the case. >> so, you are right. that brought in lots of politics. you do not have the irony is the american people is left and right. the bell curve is right in the middle. congress is on inverted bell curve. it is an inverted bell curve on the left and right. end, there is also a disagreement on policy. politics and policy. the president doesn't want to call them islamist terrorists. anything larger a terrace.
the cold war is over, the world is a dangerous place. they made our job easy. we had deep disagreements not on politics. one last point, 535 numbers of congress. these differences of opinion. that is why you have to have the president in the right direction. >> this is like the blind men and the elephant. you have a different opinion. wall, a tree, whatever, a snake. i was there. most of these were their at the same time. cia briefings, weekend, week out, that the vice president got.
we were told that these israelis and the germans, the brits and us all have the same determination that it was weapons of mass destruction. we knew that saddam hussein would use this type of weapon on people. i still don't know. who knows whether those things went to syria or iran. they could have still been there and moved out. the other issue that john had on , i don't disagree with john's conclusion. , and in a sense the country is split. come extreme to the right, extreme left. i say not just gerrymandering tookhe cain feingold bill the money out of politics. when you take the money out of the party politics, the party is
a homogenized basis. they bring people together, whether you are a democrat or a republican, they bring the people together. the money supported those candidates and the candidates themselves were not too far to the right or left, whether they were republican or democrat. , with mccain-feingold is it the money out of the party and you pushed it out. world ofurces of the the left, and the coax on the , they do the advertising. they post a message and the ideas. so, what happens, the center has gone on of the congress and the people have to come together and rationalize and make things work , cannot do it. >> i'm sensing the frustration of those of you who care about this institution that clearly, mr. speaker you love, that is now such ill repute in the
country and we are getting into the process of campaign finance is thisr things, polarization having a real impact on the way in which this country conducts foreign policy? we look at the whole business about this prisoner exchange involving sergeant bergdahl, we , everythinghazi seems to be falling back into .his political prism is that a consequence of what you just talked about, the fact that the center has eroded? >> everything is a political governmentd not a dialogue. >> is that impacting america's
ability to do what it needs to do? >> i think it definitely impacted. >> it is but i don't think it is the sole problem. i think is a leadership problem. is an analytical point, the president is the ceo of the country. he has to bring the country together, he has to figure out how to work his will. all of you who were in congress know that the process of consultation, ira member interviewing president bush remember, interviewing president bush once and he had to leave to go spend time with you. you spent time, you talk things out. there is an isolation now in the white house. it is always a bunker, to a certain extent, which mike mccurry can attest to having lived in a bunker for years in
the clinton white house. the congress and the republicans bear some responsibility for this but basically the ceo of the country has to find a way to work his will. if you look at the history of two presidents from two different parties, reagan and clinton, you can criticize them and many would in many ways. but they found a way to work their will. way onma has not found a these foreign-policy issues, some of the domestic budget issues to work its will. i think that it is a disengagement on his part. i think he has a lot of very good ideas.
i think some of the republicans have lots of very good ideas. they are not spending time together. can i ask a question of the audience? how many people have been involved in the negotiation at one point or another in your life? how many are married? time, you havend to realize that the person on the other side of the table, speaker hastert, you did this all the time, even though you disagree, and you have to work you, one for me, or we're are going to find some consensus. it is the collapse of a process. we havet to make sure clarity. in the panel discussion about the role of congress when it comes to international crisis at led first by mr. shays,
the end of the day, it is really the president and the elite pulpit that will set the tone for this. congress can play a role and be supportive and be wherever it is. you're looking for presidential conviction when you're looking to rally the country, settling it in having a vision. you, do you want to take a crack at that? now is basically cases --ed and in some i'll believe that a state corporation is a person in the state of texas executes one. this is further dividing the congress.
they're good people that want to do the right thing but they are trapped in a system that i believe is running out of control at the moment and it is driving the members as follows the country into the left corner and the right corner, which makes it exceedingly difficult for anybody, the speaker, the president, or anybody else to bring together because that is not their base. that is not their constituency. >> is difficult. >> and the president calls her stops, your staff is like dead in her tracks. they come and say, the white house is on the phone. they're very curious what is going to happen. is the president. i would tell you, it is a big deal. i remember when i was sworn in in special election, a congressman who had been there for about 25 years when i was to meet ronald reagan, he stayed with me.
i said, what did you do that. he said, anytime you get to go the white house, it is a big deal. >> i would love to be this president's legislative liaison if you would listen to 10% of what i would tell him. you meet with the members, you talk with them. they will find some way to accommodate the courtesy you have given them. i would love to have a conversation with this president about why this is islamic terrorists and have him tell me why it is not and have that dialogue. i would at least feel like he gave me a chance to say what i felt and i would have more trust with him to then give him an opportunity to have the powers he needs. i will just say one thing that scared the heck out of me was when he said i'm going to give congress the right to vote on whether i'm on syria. the bombing needed to happen
like that. what they're going to see is a disunity in congress because we will debate it and the president is going to look weak and we are tinng to look weak and pu will think, i can take a pretty strong stance against this country. >> you're making a strong case for stronger role for the president. >> you noticed. >> well, i am struck by this. if you look back at time in which we have had true bipartisanship, the president has been deferential to the leadership. if you look back at the marshall plan. the anniversary of d-day and the aftermath of world war ii. president truman injured into a true partnership with congress. >> it was so long ago. the players were different and the attitudes were different. >> that is my point.
the historic circumstances that we faced then. at the end of the cold war, maybe center the things that impact the way in which our domestic politics are governed, is that really defining the way in which we conduct foreign-policy? >> we will take really quickly the prisoner swap. it seemed to want to members of ,ongress and to the public disconnected the blue, you need to work that, you need to bring the congress in. the most sensitive national security secrets are shared with the speaker of the house. is that correct? >> yes. .> this is pretty low >> i am stepping up. i worked for daniel patrick moynihan when he was the vice-chairman of the senate
intelligence committee. he and barry goldwater works together. it actually had a spot for daniel moynihan for his reelection. they work so much in tandem with each other. if you go up and do a briefing on congress, the assumption that the white house is that information will be public very shortly. it is only in a very restricted basis when the very top leadership or maybe the top of the intelligence committee. >> they do that all the time on things that don't leak, correct, speaker? >> we did it on some things that they forgot that they even had room. this comes back, for instance, to the taping of telephone conversations. we agree it should happen. .> there is a way
both houses, both democrats and republicans. it can work and you have to make human contact on this. obama and his operation to a certain extent. i am sure that the instinct of getting bergdahl released was humanitarian. this is a good thing that we're going to do, something positive for somebody. they didn't have a strategic plan to win over the congress and once it became public, the general voters out there. something that may have had one of the most
>> president clinton floated the idea of getting i think a $50 billion loan package approved for mexico. there was no public sentiment for that, no public support. something had to be done. that was a genuine crisis. the speaker to come down and talk to him about it. think they you, i have the spiritually relationship. this peculiar relationship. he said, my caucus will not be for this is they will respond if they see some people 74 to make the case.
limbaugh andsh then the speaker said, get ruben here. it happened. we followed some of what the council was that we had heard there was notat uniform support for that but at least there was a time when people were saying we were doing the same thing. eventually, mexico paid back the 20 billion. it was based on consultation, relationships. me talking to you, you talking to me. is that what we are saying, when there is not enough of that happening. know he is aich, i figure that some people cannot accept that he would even think this way but he told me on more than one occasion if president
clinton asks him for his best advice, even if it hurt our own party, he would tell him. he said because he is the president of the united states and he needs my best advice. that he believed that. there were occasions that we did not want him to go by himself. that speakernk boehner would say that a barack obama? >> yes, i think he would. >> i think there is such deference, at least in the initial context of the president . now, let's take a real example of 1991, january. ,addam hussein invaded kuwait taking over kuwait. bush senior was all set, he had 500,000 troops over in the region to launch what became called desert storm. they are sitting in the white
days beforeout 10 the war is going to start, president bush says, we have to go to congress. dick cheney almost had a heart attack. he said, you cannot trust my former colleagues. he was the defense secretary at the time. bush said, no, i've got to do this. advisoronal security told the president and the other advisors, if you go to congress and you get approval, it will strengthen your hand politically internationally in the world, so bush went to congress, 52-47, passed the senate and passed the house by more, and in one of the few apologies that dick cheney has ever issued, he called president bush and he said, i was wrong.
this is actually the right and necessary thing to do. >> i want to ask you about that because you are one of the forcrats that voted that. what kind of outreach did you get? how many democrats actually voted for the 91 resolution? >> i don't think it was a majority. >> there were 50 households altogether. thatat was the play out of in the democratic caucus? obviously, there were a bunch of them. of them.e a hunch >> the moderate democrats felt like it was in the best interest of the country. this would strengthen our country's hand. so, i remember somebody after that vote same, i appreciate you
supporting president bush. i said, i did not support president bush. i supported my country and president bush's the president. it was not a political vote, it was a vote for the country. there was some on the left. >> this is a problem for members. i said i wasn't happy that our president passed for support in congress to do a strike that i thought needed to happen right away and it would be over. this was engaging troops, it was going to be a long-term effort. lose 10,000. 10,000 troops. with great planning
and consultation. so now i vote for the war going for iraq and a don't like how we fought it. i don't like the fact that we told the general said they looked the other way, that they would still be part of the government. i don't like the fact that all of the people that were well educated, we throughout. didn't like that we interact well. there were so many things i didn't like. this is a problem for a member. if i knew how we were going to fight that war, i would have voted no. that is part of the challenge. yes.d we go in, rb going to fight it well? our troops fought it well. we put them in harms way without the protection they needed. the role oft congress which is our subject here which is to hold accountable the president for
executing and implementing the policy that the president and the congress can come together on at the end of the day? you did have an opportunity through oversight. speaker hastert made the point, the power of the purse. there has been time for congress says that you will shut off funding because you're not implementing policy. >> i voted to go into iraq and not funded. it was like free money. later, i chaired the commissioner and we wasted so much money. i learned a lesson that i cannot use them because i am not there. but if you're going to go to war, you have to pay for it. the american people have to feel it and they have to support it. we did not put it in the budget. if i'm really being honest with myself. i was afraid that there were too that if we had to
pay for it would not vote for it. so, you had this kind of conflict. politics, it is policy we were debating. sometimes we think it is all politics. no, there is heartfelt strong feelings about what we should do and we disagree. >> i cannot afford picking on woodward. piñata forbeing a the press corps. now, i get to whack you back a little bit. do you think the role the media plays and how would cover some of these foreign policy disputes , issues, heightens some of this see,ical tension at we some of the fact that everyone seems to go to a partisan corner
when any issue that comes up, when we should say, look, i am acting in the best interests of america. i mean collectively, the way in which the wreck and people are getting the information about these critical foreign-policy issues, is that adding to the problem >> the problem is that we live in the internet age, which is driven by two things, impatience and speed simple fixation and political position and unfortunately people are tuning in to the blogs and the news organizations that support views that they already have, i very much regret this, i think that you need to spend a lot of time and you try to be as neutral as you can in this. the press bears a responsibility, but i don't think that we should skip over the general conclusion here and
this is really been the case since world war two. the president really has, you can call up the bully pulpit, he has the constitutional power to fit,y the force as he sees i remember a number of years ago running into justice scalia and said, howming way he come you always write about presidents. i said, that is where the power is. he said in his wonderful way, wrong, wrong, wrong. where, is the first article constitution, i said, the legislature, he said, see? i said, that is the problem with taking the constitution and things literally, it says
certain things but those things don't happen in practice, and since world war ii, we have had many wars and engagements and no declarations. ,nd so, i think if you go back certainly nixon, for nixon to obama, there has been an increasing concentration and focus on the presidency. a lot of that is good, some of it may be bad. but, that power that the andident has is immense speaker hastert in particular i am sure, when the president would call and say, i would like you to come down to the white house for a meeting, how long would it take you to get there? >> three minutes and 45 seconds. >> the point made.
>> i look at this whole thing. a change in how people get information. kid, chicago had the sun-times and chicago tribune. well, you got both sides of the story and maybe "the daily news" was in the middle. "the chicago tribune" with the modest statement, the world's greatest newspaper. >> there is actually a dialogue. i inc. the political discussion comes at that time. even to the 80's and through the 90's. this was a discussion that was put out by folks like you that thought about things, that conjugated about things and put just anut and it wasn't instant reaction. it wasn't a knee-jerk. you haveened is that
the table, that is 24-7. anything that looks like news is instant news. people are bombarded with it. nobody really stopped to think it through. people are constantly bombarded. helps in thishat whole issue that we talked about on polarizing people. today, they do it on blogs and twitter and all these other things, it tends to polarize. i think that is part of the process. >> i want to start in with some obvious questions now. we have two microphones. let's go to one of the microphones if you have a question. state your name and remember, >> i thought one of you would how many democrats voted to go into kuwait. is 86.ink it people tend to have strong
opinions and that is great. the opinions can kind of be a part of your conversation after this session. people, inral particular mr. woodward, made the point that the leadership and to medication is a problem for the president of the congress. does that focus primarily or uniquely on boehner and the leadership or what about his communication with the democratic membership or is there some suggestion that there is a closure at all sides of the congress? if there is, is there should for that? >> the question is not just executive legislative branch but within the caucuses, within the congress. having a private discussion with one of the chairman of one of the most important senate committees, obviously, a democrat. somebody i've known for decades.
there was this theory that obama is not connecting or managing the human relations part of being president. he said, i don't know how you can say that. in the last five years, the president has called me twice. the senators got one call or zero calls are going to feel totally out of it. youou knew who it was, would say, this cannot be true. it is true. do -- , what he would 30 at would call at 11: night.
or one in the morning. >> we are having trouble allocating office space in the senate, could you get involved and help us and clinton got the chart. immediately involved in it. >> yes, sir. europe,t flew in from so i look at these with an outsiders perspective. we all know the human relations are great, but when one person has as much power as you just discussed, versus congress having more power as an elected represented a body, isn't that scary in the sense that you manage these personal relationships between the congressman and these people give the president advice to make sure he has an informed decision. when one person whole so much power and they can decide to
perhaps invade mexico tomorrow, that it experience might be better to increase the power. when it makes sense to give congress back some power? lexa depends if you're the congress was the president. -- >> that depends if you're the congress or the president. invadegress could not mexico. somebody said the word trust. its wondersnot work or its will without the trust of the people. the president cannot really work his will without the trust of the people and the congress. donebility to get things is always the ability to have trust. the problems that have pushed the government part is the lack of trust the people have with each other. that is when we lose the middle.
we need to build that trust up and we can start to communicate and understand each other. the president needs to talk to the congress. >> i heard a few opposing ideologies with what it comes to syria. there was this consensus that, obama should have consulted congress first, then when it came to the releasing of the soldier, it was, he should have taken leadership on that, it should have directed that decision to congress. think, ifested if you you were president for day and the difficult decision came over your desk, is there a general rule of thumb that you would live by? make that distinction clear, whether you would take the leadership and consult congress
after or if you would go to congress first. >> i think it depends on the issue. i don't think you should have consulted with congress on syria, think he should have acted quickly as soon as the chemicals were used. i think he would have had support among most members. i guess i would make this point to you. if the president had done his homework, he will have had such good relationships with summary different members that he will no how they think, he will know who to call, and there would be some consensus that develops. this may seem like a political cheap shot but i think that if he spent less time going to his fund-raising events and more time sitting down numbers of congress, he would be a more successful president. >> wiki talking about how useful congress has become in many ways
in the relationship with the president as well. i often talk with my friends fixed but i can be don't usually get to ask former congressman how they fix it. what can you do to fix it? >> i had a bill that would demand under the constitution, i think it is article one, the togress has the power to describe the manner and place in the election of congress. the bill would have mandated independent commissions regarding congressional seats in every state. we could not pass it. some have taken their own initiatives. i could go on ad nausea him about what it has done.
the real crux of the matter is collaborative partner with the executive branch when it comes to foreign policy. i would hope that one of the things that congress could do is to produce paid more in some of the international forms. i happen to serve as president of the nato parliamentary -- wehink it is important that should interact with the parliamentarians to build up the trust of the parliamentarian. that is important. congress doesn't pay enough attention. bob, i must tell you, some of the trip that i took to meetings .f nato member nations
they would be going skiing in germany are going to paris for valentine's day and all of that >> were you skiing? lexa we were in a meeting. -- >> we were in a meeting. we were going to the nato officers school. the first group ever from the u.s. congress. >> i've been on some of those congressional junkets and they sure are tough. thatwould just like to add something rests with all of you as well. i could win or lose election on these two issues. right to woman's choose or pro-life? they have nothing to do with the future prosperity of our country. parents saidp, my that we would -- and our economy
grew at three percent or four percent. for the last 16 years, is growing less than two percent. we would like to talk about things that matter. where an airplane weight in doesalia for five weeks not tell you what your elected officials need to do. >> let me try one idea out on you, what about every tuesday that congress is in session, you set aside 8:00 until 10:00 in ae morning, no one can have sanctioned event by the campaign committees. collects mandatory breakfast. >> let me share one little point.
she said, chris, i cannot talk to you anymore, i cannot support any of your bills. three days later and said, why can't we all get along. it is both sides better china members, don't work with the targeted member. i was a targeted member. it is both sides that are telling members, don't work with targeted members. >> are there any recent developers that give you cause for optimism or members that impress you that we should pay attention to? because interesting there are members. i don't want to name names, but i know a good friend who happened to be from ohio who has been working, who got elected to
senate. i think there are good common sense things that happened. there are efforts to do some things. the energy issues that we have to really solve. what we do in energy policy drives our economy for the next 10 years. people have to work together on this. there are common solutions. if you look, you will find some bipartisan at work in the congress, and the house and in the senate. people that you want to support. >> you don't read about a newspaper or see it on tv. >> i appreciate the work. the right mind seems more popular than the left one, i don't know why. they're both in front of me. notes on some the
discussion and it seems that there are two points that were not answered. the problem is the lack of eye partisanship in congress pushed the power to the white house. because congress cannot work together, the president becomes the policy.t to when those policies began, after congress gets approval, it is hard for congress to actually check what the president is doing. i would like to know what congress could do to get together and check the power of the president when the policies are implemented. >> easier to describe the
creation of the universe. hard in foreign affairs . exactly the world powers act, response to the was,ct of foreign policy by president who is not telling congress about where they were bombing and the response overriding a veto of the president was to pass legislation. >> it is all on paper. congressman, the presidents, as you well know from both parties have taken issue with and said it is unconstitutional and have acted on what they think is their authority to make foreign policy and to employ the armed forces. >> >> the supreme court isn't
going to get into this battle if they can help it, between congress and the president on issues of war, there has to be so much flexibility. when he asked the question, i was thinking, yes, the president is the commander in chief and he is our chief of foreign diplomats and you elected him. and he was given for years to do his job. succeedis to help him to the standard that we agree with this policy. president allthe this power. we're doing our job. >> there are some things, someone had asked, is there something to be optimistic about, there's not a whole lot but there are some things. if you look at what the obama administration has done overtly and in secret in negotiations iran on their nuclear
program. they are on the edge of making the final agreement and the president has said privately that there is a 50-50 chance that we will reach a final agreement with the irani and. that is a case where pretty sophisticated diplomatic steps have been taken. intelligencee committee wisely. maybe, something will come out of that in terms of a final agreement and that will be a truly big deal, not just for obama but for the country and for the middle east and the world. so, that is something they worked on over years and a very meticulous way. it is not perfect and as the aesident thinks, it is only 50-50 chance that you get that final deal. something where
they did and i think there has been some consultation with the congress about this and is aware of the details. >> my question to you is, do you inc. whatever possible success they're having on that is because it is. bit of the front middleas not been in the of the political boards? >> well, it actually has at times and has been a lot of criticism for the president going to diplomatic route. republicann the party think that the solution is to bomb iran. there has been a back-and-forth on that. in the parade of horrible, some people list about obama is that he is negotiated with the irani and so on this. ,f you get into the details
they're on the right path, perhaps. the reticence of doing something maybe because we are trying to do something on iran to unbalance. there are some unintended consequence for that type of diplomacy as well. -- the maybe the red reticence of the president doing a redline and not doing anything about it might have been because of our trying to do something. >> if you look at the chronology where the white house was saying quite openly after the chemical weapons, after they established that they have been used. openlyre saying quite and there was that walk with his chief of staff in which the
president reversed course and said, as chris was talking about they're going to go to congress and ask for approval. then he said, no, we are not going to do that, we are not going to bomb. there was a big change in policy. i agree with you, speaker, that we don't know exactly what happened. that is the subject, somebody should really look at in detail. it was in a short timeframe. >> i think a president wilson coming back, not consulting with republicans. maybe it would have been good at the u.s. working his proposals. if this president has done a good job, he was still have a more difficult time selling it to congress. trying to impart back and forth.
>> throughout my lifetime i have heard each administration deal with peace in the middle east. i want to get your perspective a little bit of what sets those priorities of how you establish that policy and what makes it important that the u.s. takes one particular side versus another. >> are you talking about israel in particular? like to focus on israel, that is fine, and whether it is new testament or old testament, they both apply. >> i would be happy to jump in. what makes the middle east so important is energy. it would have been nice after nine/11 had we tried to accelerate our own capacity for production. but, the middle east is hugely
important because of energy. at wanting who look israel to have a place and then we say, get out of lebanon and they got out of lebanon, this is a great example of how you can have a formula because arafat made a decision. the info todd a happened after that which was no cooperation whatsoever. in our minds we said, get out. we had the exact opposite meaning. said,, israel got out of gaza. that became the center of activities for, in my judgment, terrorists.
they had a chance, i viewed it and others looked at it differently. it became a center for offensive action. it is a very tough issue. >> i agree with chris. he said, we had a chance. we passed three energy bills. tried to bring more u.s. capabilities of energy. it energy policy and it will drive our economy for the next 10 years, maybe the next 20 years. as you see as being more energy independent in this nation, we will see less dependence on political shifts in the middle east. >> i have a question pertaining to back to the iranian nuclear deal we were talking about.
talking aboutere the iranian supreme leader. we give you the president and let him make these decisions. the reigning supreme leader said that a military attack is not a priority for americans. they are for now said the idea of any new attorney action. the obama administration has taken military attacks on the table with a deal. they are now against the idea of any new military action. when we take up the table and go with congress for an opportunity to possibly make a deal, to possibly promote going to war if the negotiations fail. how can we figure it all out? on the ayatollah's spin the west point speech. >> i don't think that that is what the president said and the
president has made it pretty clear that that is not off the table. >> i think that is probably right. >> you guys spent a while discussing how we got to the harmonious. after 9/11 to the polarized political climate that congress is in now. can you comment about how that has affected the credibility of the international stage when it does play a role? >> they are writing what, nine percent? 10%? what you are an optimist. -- >> you are an optimist. >> a member told me, a member of the house, that they spent 40 nights here last year. 40 nights.
>> that had to be the senate. points that the panel made was about how this polarizes between the republicans and democrats and the lack of anything in between. i think we get that is because we have a direct electoral system where winner takes all in that gives two parties. europe, they have april worst electoral system. they have significant representation from third parties as well and each has a coalition with one or more third parties. there are more ideas that get on the table that way. don't you think that is a better system? >> i visited a lot of european parliaments and they were very active on getting things done. they did a lot of talking. they have a great discussion, but very little gets done. system, youentary
don't have separation of powers. the prime minister is the head of the party, the head of the parliament. he hands down his dictates and it goes through automatically. there is no check and balance. what theament decides prime minister wants. we have a different system. i would beg to differ and i think our system is better. a nerd partyt mind candidate in a presidential race. the twos perot joined other candidates, he focused on one thing, getting our country's financial house in order. we spent four years after that balancing the budget. focus. it such a i think a third-party presidential candidate who is not an ideologue, someone kind of the middle could have a huge impact.
governmentd have the as a speaker said and the opposition, the government runs things and has a referendum on basically what is done every five years. there is nosystem, such thing as the government. it depends on the circumstances. the president wants to spend some money. congress is the government. if the president is going to veto, then in that case, the president is the government. in the case of obamacare, basically, the supreme court was the government because they decided whether or not it was constitutional. system government in our changes depending on the issue and the circumstances. it doesn't in the parliamentary system. >> piggybacked on the discussion to the power of the purse, the president going abroad and
making promises, etc.. president obama was in warsaw for this occasion. thing, theby one promise was made for a billion-dollar reinforcement militarily toward central eastern europe with regards to the ongoing crisis in the ukraine. i get the sense that in the current polarized climate, that is a pipe dream. congress will not give them , even in a moment of crisis. what strikes me more is you have a president getting off of air force one, no congressional delegation. the house was not in session. arrived at a momentous celebration that had 10 heads of state. not one member of congress was present to build the kind of relationships we have been talking about here, to meet with his or her counterpart from a european capital. to discuss the matters of
urgency right now in that part of europe with other heads of state to show the kind of solidarity that as many desperately needed. how has one change that and in your time in congress, was customary for the president to say that air force is one available, join me? did the members reach out to the president? i am sure that normandy would have a lot of trip. >> we were going to have lunch and they asked us what we wanted. will have what he is having point to president bush. it was a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. if he had invited anyone, they would have come. join him asked them to on another airplane, they would have come. yet, i wasspeaker the deputy whip at the time.
invited, we had a plane. a lot of us went. we also been with them to south america. i did travel with the president was a lot of places importantght it was could getongress engaged another parliamentary bodies and at the time that i was speaker, we had a lot of congressional delegations. we had that happen dialogue that was important to do. group ismbers, the still trying to generate those kinds of discussions. you need to talk to people in other parts of the world that have responsibilities.